Partner and head of personal injury, London

At school I did work experience at a barristers chambers and was fascinated by the whole process and the people around me. My parents were both academics. This led to me reading history at Oxford initially, but I think my father was a frustrated lawyer so he was very happy when I chose law as my career.

Sophie Davies

I was among the first cohort of students to do a law degree at Swansea University and here my interest turned into a passion. The lecturers were really excited to be teaching this brand new course and their enthusiasm rubbed off. After graduation, I did my training contract with a very traditional firm. They hadn’t had a trainee for a while and it’s fair to say it was a baptism of fire. I was thrown in at the deep end and, while terrifying at times (appearing before an angry circuit judge in a legally aided matter I knew nothing about remains a career low point), I learned a lot in a short space of time.   

One thing that university doesn’t teach you about is the human element. It’s what makes the work so rewarding, but also adds an element of unpredictability. You have no idea what to expect when your key witness announces as he’s walking into court that one of his molars has cracked in half and he’s spent the morning supergluing it back together.   

I have had some fascinating clients. A published author and architect who lived in a medieval tower in rural Spain stands out. We had to ensure that the adaptations she required to the tower after her accident were aesthetically in keeping.       

'You have no idea what to expect when your key witness announces as he’s walking into court that one of his molars has cracked in half and he’s spent the morning supergluing it back together'

I specialise in cycling claims, which sadly have become increasingly common as more people make the environmentally conscious choice to cycle. However responsible and careful cyclists are, they will always be vulnerable to other road users and, while local and national campaigns, and updates to the Highway Code, are helping to raise awareness and improve safety, there’s still a lot more work that needs to be done.

A common feature of my cases is clients who have sustained a traumatic brain injury. That is almost always life-changing for my clients and their families. Some cannot work for months; some may never be able to work again. They are terrified about the financial implications and it’s gratifying to be able to give them back some security and peace of mind.  

One thing I’m most proud of is being able to help those with brain injuries rehabilitate, which is one of the reasons we partner with Headway East London. I’m always so impressed when I visit the charity and see the work they do. As well as providing legal advice, we also regularly support them through sponsorship, fundraising and volunteering. It’s impossible not to come away every time feeling reinvigorated and inspired.  

Osbornes is unusual in that we have a number of foreign language teams including a Spanish one which I lead. The difference this makes to clients for whom English is not their first language cannot be overstated. We typically deal with people who have suffered an accident while in the UK for a holiday or work. Many aren’t fluent enough to communicate what’s happened, let alone be able to understand the myriad of medical and legal terminology. They often have to return home and are then left having to navigate the complexities of the British legal system in a different language, from a different country. Having someone who can advocate for them and explain things is reassuring and, on a practical level, ensures that important detail is not lost in translation.

When you’ve been working in personal injury for as long as I have, you build up a certain resilience, but I still find it hard to switch off when I have a trial. Having 10 experts lined up to give evidence at the High Court is nerve-racking, however experienced you are, and press interest adds to the anxiety.

I am consistently humbled by the resilience and fortitude of clients. In serious cases, you can be involved in a client’s life for years. You become very invested and can even grow to feel attached. At times I have felt like a counsellor as well as a lawyer. When you see how quickly someone’s life can change, you count your blessings but it also makes you increasingly risk-averse. I still get the urge to hold my children’s hands when crossing the road – they are both teenagers now so that doesn’t go down well!